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HomeNewsLocal newsPublic’s Views on Telemedicine Sought as part of AARP Opinion Poll

Public’s Views on Telemedicine Sought as part of AARP Opinion Poll

Telemedicine opinion poll goes out to the public on St. John with help from AARP volunteers. (Source photo by Judi Shimel)

The Virgin Islands chapter of AARP wants to know how access to telemedicine services make a difference in the lives of patients and caregivers. Organization staffers have been asking residents to complete an opinion poll expressing their interest in digital medical services.

About 1,500 questionnaires were collected during public events on St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix since January, according to AARP Advocacy Director Pamela Toussaint. Questionnaires were handed out at the Bordeaux Agriculture Fair, St. Croix Agrifest, and public health fairs sponsored by Sen. Ray Fonseca.

The final health fair took place at the D.C. Canegata Ballpark on Friday.

“What we’ve been doing over the past two months is conducting an opinion poll,” Toussaint said, explaining that the public is being asked how they feel about having the option of consulting with health practitioners in the digital space.

“Almost 90 percent say they would like to have the option,” the advocacy director said.

Toussaint said the informal polling may be followed by a formal survey sponsored by AARP of the Virgin Islands. With that step, she said, the organization hopes to find out how well the public understands what telemedicine offers, basic terms related to telemedicine and how the system works.

Over the course of this outreach effort, Toussaint said AARP hopes to support local legislation. Advocates also want to make sure digital literacy programs reach the public that will help them navigate telemedicine and telehealth services.

The National Center for Health Statistics cites an October 2022 survey that said 37 percent of U.S. citizens turned to telemedicine to reach healthcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021. And the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said the use of telemedicine technology jumped from five percent prior to the pandemic to 53 percent afterward.

Advocates working on the opinion poll say they plan to continue their efforts through the end of March.

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